According to Elegant Media, cofounder and CEO, Anushka Bandara, the short answer is yes. When we purchase a smartphone and set it up using your personal information, we are essentially giving it full permission to track our location at all times.
Elegant Media is one of Australia’s leading app and software development companies. They work with government, corporates, entrepreneurs and businesses of all sizes to develop and deliver cutting edge tech solutions.
“Your phone knows wherever you are sitting or standing right now. It remembers what your whereabouts were a year ago to the minute, and it will continue to capture your movements ten minutes from now,” said Bandara.
“Many of the apps and smartphone functions you use on a daily basis use and record your location data in one way or another – whether it is to deliver you targeted ads on your social platforms, give you directions home from your road trip, or track the distance of your morning run.
“While tracking your location is necessary for using your GPS, it is also helping the big tech companies sell you things. Targeted advertising is the very real, and to be honest quite scary, way of the future. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and other tech conglomerates make their money off presenting you with ads that are in line with your day-to-day habits and geographical location using their data-mining machines.
“If you are wondering how on earth your phone is allowed to track your whereabouts and share it with unknown third parties; you gave it the permission to. Companies data-sharing policies are often hidden within their long privacy policies and terms of agreement for interacting and using their devices. They will cloud your judgement by using perfectly reasonable explanations for this use of data, such as Apple tracking your phone calls and emails to prevent fraud, in order to ensure you confirm to this invasion of privacy.”
According to Bandara, there are a number of things you can take back the power from your phone and choose when and what location tracking is used for.
- Correct you phone’s location settings.
“iOS and Android devices alike can be stopped from tracking you. This feature is strategically buried behind walls of privacy settings, but it is possible. ‘Frequent Locations’ is your phone’s default status is to record your daily routine, remember where you live, where you regularly go, and for how long for,” said Bandara.
According to Bandara, if you, like many Aussies, find this unnerving, there are some steps you can take to turn this feature off. On Apple devices, you will need to follow the steps Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Preferences > Significant Locations. Alternatively, on Android locations you must go to Settings > Location > Google Location Settings, and then switch the slider off on Location Reporting, Location History and Delete Location History.
- Don’t forget about your virtual assistant.
According to Bandara, Siri and Google Assistant are notorious for recording your data to look for patterns in behaviour that can be used for targeted advertising. Your voice commands are also recorded and stored in Apple and Google servers. In order to reverse this, or prevent ongoing tracking, you can disable virtual assistants in Settings.
- Control permissions on your apps.
“You are in control of which apps you download onto your device. Before downloading within the App Store and Google Play you can read the permissions the app will require for usage – from there you can make an informed decision as to whether you would like your location, microphone, photos, contacts or camera are worth being accessed by the app in question,” said Bandara.
Elegant Media is a full service mobile app development and software solutions provider for businesses, government and entrepreneurs. With hundreds of mobile app projects completed, their team is one of the most experienced teams in Australia. They are also the only app developer in Australia with ISO accreditation and also hold Apple and Google accreditation.